An early morning run through the woods, or a descent down my front steps between the row of bushes, often results in a sudden spiderweb splashed across the face — ugh! At times as I move I hold up a hand, beside and slightly in front of my head, to intercept and brush aside the silken threads. And that always reminds me of a family proverb:

"The noose of the assassin is swift and deadly!"

That's the line, as we recollect it, from the classic 1925 silent movie The Phantom of the Opera. At one point in the film two characters are creeping along, each with a hand held high in order to foil the "Punjab Lasso", a garrotte which threatens to kill them. As Gaston Leroux writes in the original story (translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos?):

I simply told M. de Chagny to keep his hand at the level of his eyes, with the arm bent, as though waiting for the command to fire. With his victim in this attitude, it is impossible even for the most expert strangler to throw the lasso with advantage. It catches you not only round the neck, but also round the arm or hand. This enables you easily to unloose the lasso, which then becomes harmless.

The movie is now in the public domain and can be downloaded from — but scanning it quickly I can't find the "noose of the assassin" phrase on any of the dialogue cards. The closest I see are:

Close, but not quite there ...

TopicEntertainment - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicHumor - 2006-05-30

(correlates: CatchAndRelease, DiplomatAtArms, SafetyFirst, ...)